Now that the Yankees have clinched the American League East, it’s time to begin looking ahead to their potential matchups and roster construction as they pursue a 28th World Series championship, and the franchise’s first since 2009.
“There’s still other chapters to write,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That’s the hope, and now you have that opportunity. We’re going to chase that. For us overall, we’re proud to be in this position. We’re proud to win the American League East. This is a bear of a division every year, as much this year because every team is now competitive.
“To go through the highs of the first half where we raced out and nothing really went wrong for the first few months, to really hitting a roadblock for a six-week stretch where we were beat up and injured, we’ve persevered through that. We finished the season like we needed to. Now we give ourselves a shot to chase our dream of winning the championship.”
What might the ALDS roster look like?
C: José Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza
OF: Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks
DH: Matt Carpenter, Giancarlo Stanton
SP: Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino
RP: Scott Effross, Domingo Germán, Jonathan Loáisiga, Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, Clarke Schmidt, Lou Trivino, Greg Weissert
CL: Clay Holmes
How could the above postseason roster change?
The starting rotation will feature Cole, Cortes and Severino in that order, with the Yankees likely not carrying a fourth starter for the Division Series. They’ll keep Jameson Taillon tossing at their alternate site in Somerset, N.J., then plan on bringing back their starters from Games 1 and 2, if necessary.
Matt Carpenter (left foot fracture) and Andrew Benintendi (broken bone in right hand) may be able to return from their respective injuries during the postseason. Carpenter is ahead of Benintendi and should be on the roster for the American League Division Series, while Benintendi might not be ready until the AL Championship Series.
Frankie Montas (right shoulder inflammation) is on the injured list and, according to Boone, will not have enough time to build up as a starting pitcher for the postseason. Boone suggested that Montas may be used in a relief role or as an opener, capable of throwing 30 to 40 pitches. Until he resumes throwing and facing hitters, this roster projection does not include him.
The above roster includes Peralta, who has been working out with the club. Since this projected roster only has three starting pitchers, there's room for Peraza, who could provide a spark off the bench; speedy outfielder Tim Locastro is also an option. DJ LeMahieu seems to be healthy enough to start in the playoffs after limping through most of August and September with a right second toe injury.
What is the first-round matchup?
The Yankees will face the Guardians, with the ALDS set to open Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. This season, New York went 5-1 against Cleveland. The Yanks faced the Guardians July 2-3 in Cleveland, winning two games of a three-game set, including a doubleheader sweep.
Who’s in the postseason rotation?
Having led the Majors with 257 strikeouts during the regular season, Cole will get the ball for Game 1. Cortes has been one of baseball’s best stories, and the All-Star left-hander deserves another turn on the national stage. Severino finished his regular season in stellar fashion, firing seven hitless innings against the Rangers on Oct. 3.
Who is the Yankees’ closer?
That would have been a silly question in April, but Aroldis Chapman was ineffective and/or absent for much of the year; now, it appears he’s thrown his final pitch as a Yankee as he was left off the ALDS roster after missing Friday's workout. Throughout most of the first half, Holmes had the job on lock, earning his first All-Star selection.
But now, as the Yanks approach October, their late-inning sequences are fluid. Loáisiga might be one of the most trusted relievers in the bullpen, though Holmes is still considered the ninth-inning guy. Boone will have to be creative after the starters exit; Scott Effross and Lou Trivino could play key roles.
Will the Yankees have enough offense for October?
Judge can’t do it alone -- or can he? He certainly tried in August, carrying a limping squad to each of their 10 victories in that tough month, and now, reinforcements are in place. Rizzo’s left-handed bat offers needed balance, Torres has been swinging a hot stick and Stanton may have felt something click into place when he hit that memorable ninth-inning walk-off grand slam against the Pirates.
Bader’s early returns have been impressive, as he appears to be a promising contributor on both sides of the ball. Cabrera shows a maturity beyond his years and has been working out in left field regularly of late, hinting that the Yanks are strongly considering him as a starter with Benintendi out.
What is the Yankees’ recent postseason history?
To refresh your memory, the Yanks were eliminated by the Red Sox in the 2021 AL Wild Card Game. They lost to the Rays in five games in the ALDS in '20, and they ended their '19 season in Houston by dropping the ALCS to the Astros in six games.
The Yankees have not reached the World Series since 2009, when they broke in the new Yankee Stadium with a championship celebration.